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Ascent of Red Top on 1995-03-12

Climber: Richard Carey

Date:Sunday, March 12, 1995
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Red Top
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:4467 ft / 1361 m

Ascent Trip Report

Named probably because the granitic rock on the mountain tends to darken to a deep brownish-red color, called desert varnish.

The mountain is part of the 35,000 acre Sawtooth Mountains Wilderness Area. A permit is not required for entry. Some cattle grazing is still allowed in the Inner Pasture. The area is administered by the BLM Resource Office, Box 2000, Palm Springs, Ca. 92258-2000. (619) 251-4800

Red Top is in an isolated area and there are no close approaches possible by car. Several roads that come close to the mountain are all closed or long since abandoned. The easiest route is from Agua Caliente Springs south over Moonlight Pass to the Inner Pasture. The peak can be reached in a long dayhike although many prefer to backpack into the canyon north of the peak. Start the hike near the shuffleboard court in the campground at Agua Caliente Springs County Park on highway S2. Take the Moonlight Trail which goes past a water tank and then climbs over a ridge and drops down into Moonlight Canyon. Turn right up the second wash and in a few hundred feet go left over a steep hill when a dry waterfall appears. Proceed up the canyon gaining 760 ft. in about 1 mile to a saddle with a view of the Inner Pasture. Drop down and head SW across the broad valley floor to an old road leading SSW into a canyon on the north side of Red Top. The upper part of the canyon is a good camp spot since there is often water available in the winter months. From here follow the canyon due south to a point at about UTM 561800E, 3639960N (NAD27) where you will turn left (SE) up the ridge line. Follow the ridge to the summit block at the south end after scrambling over large boulders and brush. The register is usually on the south side below the large summit block. One-way distances are 4.3 miles to the spring and 1.3 miles from there to the top. As a dayhike allow 9 to 10 hours round-trip. 3/95 RLC
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